Day 15 – Monday, 18 December 2006
I am well past the next shipping lane, not much to it, Look Left, Right and Left again and go straight across. Once again there were no ships, but this was less surprising as the route seemed to be direct to the Antarctic. Presumably it is a terminal for other places rather than a destination, like Crewe. Nobody wants to go to Crewe but you have to change there at 3am, if you are lucky enough to have to go to Aberdeen for an Audit.
Well, there was not going to be much to report for today, with no wind and not a lot going on. Until, that is, I found my sea monster; it just took on a slightly different form from that I had imagined. Which just goes to show that monsters come in all different shapes and sizes.
The wind was less than 10 knots, I had tried goosewinging and not liked it, so what better time than to try my cruising chute. This is a very pretty sail, but very big and I had only really contemplated cutting it up to make all sorts of things. I had been told that it was wrong to cut up a perfectly good sail, so I thought it only fair that I give it a try. I do not have a snuffer so figured that if I let the sail out the forehatch then, if it all got out of control, I could sit on it. First attach my trusty Come In Handy rope to the top of the sail, having found the top. Then start to pull the sail up, great except the rope is round the wrong side of the babystay. Undo the knot and pull the rope clear, but be careful not to pull the wrong end or the rope will disappear up the middle of the mast. Good advice, but too late. There was just enough end of the rope hanging down for me to push it behind a halyard with the boathook while I worked out how to get to it. Climb up onto the boom and you should just about be able to reach, funny how far up the boom now seemed. Rope saved, very, very important this rope and the only alternative would have been to go up the mast and rethread it, which happens very much less often than me going in the water and certainly not at sea.
Try again, doing nicely, each corner is round the mid cleat so just pull it up so that it does not go in the water. I have an opening pulpit, which is great to walk through when required, however the guard wire is secured at one end by a fitting with a split ring. Now what was the chance of the sail catching the split ring, 100% dead cert. I tried to save it, but it was ripping faster than I could do anything. I had no sail up and the chute was by now at the back of the boat, playing at being a drogue. I always vowed that if I had to use the drogue I would just cut it away rather than try to recover it, but conditions were good and I was not going to give in. No more than 10 knots they said, well I was lucky because the wind went up to 16. Now I had created my own sea monster, snapping at me and fighting to get away under the water while I tried to pull it aboard, beware more split rings at the end of the guard wires. This event probably warranted a harness, but there you go. Eventually I won and my monster was left to dry out in the sun. So now I do not feel guilty as I plan the sun awning, wind scoop, maybe a riding sail or a small storm jib out of the reinforced corners and who knows what else I can make from the two halves of the slightly snagged skin of my trophy.
If I was not a sane, logical, reasonably intelligent person I would think that the wind was out to get me. Again as soon as I had put the boat through this latest idea the wind dropped and the boat put itself back on course. Did I tell you that I think the wind is out to get me. If the wind tries it on again are there any other ideas still waiting to be put into action; just the spare genoa to rig up twin headsails. No, stop harassing the boat, either settle for 3.5 knots or put the engine on, I think I have tried enough for this trip. Just read your books.
And then there is the food situation. I am eating well, plenty of protein, plenty of water. I am only drinking bottled water, but Steve says I can drink the stuff from my watermaker, but the comment on dead bug bodies in my membrane sort of put me off. Today I made a cake with the last of the two oldest eggs, they seemed ok, but I didn t lick the spoon just in case. Now I had a nice cake which was the excuse to have a chocolate or vanilla soya dessert, so what did I have with the cake – apricots and custard. The only tin of apricots and it is going to take me the next two days to eat them up, by which time the cake will be gone. The custard was instant, again remaining from Gibraltar. Mix with boiling water, the packet even told you how much water and then tells you that you can vary the thickness by adding more or less water. Perhaps I should keep the packet in case I need to refer back to the instructions over the next couple of days. And what did I say when I had eaten my cake and apricots and custard – that was quite nice. While on the subject of food I might as well own up to the Marmite. I don t know if I like Marmite, does anyone. Surely the test of whether you like something is whether you lick the spoon (unless it contains raw ageing eggs) and you just can t can you. I found this jar of Marmite and it was all shiny and brown and I have put it on crackers and this morning on my bread. Presumably there is some clinic I can go to when this is over, a padded cell sounds soft and comfortable.
Wind is back up to 8 most of the time, hopefully I can average 3.5 knots, I will spend the night gybing back and forth along my track, but please no more dead fish in the cockpit tonight, my nerves will not stand it.
I decided to watch a DVD, but I did not want to run the inverter to power the speakers, would I be able to hear well enough with just the computer speakers. It was Chinese with subtitles, so that solved that one. It was a rubbish film.
Morning has arrived. No fish or blood in the cockpit. Wind is up a bit and I think it might get 10-15 today. Then I noticed the bottom of the genoa was flapping. Presumably the fight with the sail had been the last straw for the shackle keeping it attached to the furler. I got another shackle and did not hesitate to put on a harness because I am not feeling too confident at the moment. I went to the front and passed the blood on the sidedeck where the fish had come aboard but been able to flip back off, lucky for both of us. I could not get the shackle to reach because the sail was stretched full of wind and I was so pleased that I got the halyard so tight when I pulled the sail back up. I was unreasonably upset by these points and could not use a larger shackle because the pin would not go through the hole. I could have used a piece of rope in the short term, but this was my genoa, the one thing I have the faith in to get me across. I got another shackle the same size and put them together, then when the wind drops I can just take one out.
I then found that my batteries were down to 10 volts. I had run the engine for an hour yesterday afternoon, but this was not enough to power the lights all night with no wind. I suppose that using the inverter to charge up the computer and running the watermaker and the autopilot while the engine was on did not put as much into the batteries as I expected. I put the engine on and again charged up the computer and there will be hot water for a shower.
I actually covered 100 miles yesterday, I have to ease up on myself - I am doing very well really. 1550 in total since CV and 550 still to go. I think the deviation from track is about 5% and that is not bad.